Volleyball bounces back at difficult Ohio tournament

Hannah Renaldo and the Bengals went 3-1 at the Marcia French Invitational last weekend.

Buffalo State Sports Information

Hannah Renaldo and the Bengals went 3-1 at the Marcia French Invitational last weekend.

One five-set match is tiring enough, and two on the same day is just plain exhausting.

So when senior outside hitter Sarah Horvath and the rest of the Buffalo State volleyball team finally finished their second straight five-setter on Friday at the Marcia French Invitational in Cleveland, it’s not hard to understand why they wanted to rest.

“We didn’t get off the court until like 10:30, 11 at night,” Horvath said. “When it was over, I was just like, ‘oh, my God, that was 10 straight sets.’ But we knew we had to rest up because we had two more matches on Saturday.”

On Friday, the Bengals lost to Capital, 22-25, 17-25, 25-19, 28-26 and 10-15, before regrouping to beat Case Western Reserve, 14-25, 25-18, 25-13, 18-25 and 15-12.

The tournament then shifted to Berea, Ohio, on Saturday.

They then fought off Friday’s fatigue to win both of their matches on Saturday, first beating John Carroll, 27-25, 25-23, 24-26 and 29-27, and then Baldwin Wallace, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21 and 25-18.

Buffalo State (4-4) went 3-1 at the tournament, a marked improvement over its 1-3 performance the previous week at the Cortland Red Dragon Classic. Winning three matches wasn’t easy for the Bengals, but after the Cortland Tournament, that’s something they knew how to do ahead of time.

“I think the girls just knew that last week was a learning experience and just knew how hard they needed to work to win matches (this week),” head coach Maria DePeters said.

DePeters made sure the lessons learned in Cortland would sink in, implementing a “consequence” system to each drill in practices during the week leading up to the Marcia French Invitational. If they didn’t put in the work, they wouldn’t get to keep playing.

“If we did bad at something, she would end the drill,” junior outside hitter Sam Parente said. “That counts as a loss, and if you get three losses during a practice, then she’ll cancel practice, and that wouldn’t be beneficial to us. We want to get the time in.”

Similar to the Cortland Tournament, the Bengals faced very talented teams in Ohio last weekend. DePeters said schools from the Midwest are normally better than most teams the Bengals would face in New York. Five of the last six Division III national champions were Midwestern schools.

For the Bengals, the difference between going 1-3 against talented teams in Cortland and 3-1 against talented teams in Ohio was having the right attitude.

“They decided they wanted to play volleyball this weekend,” DePeters said. “I think they got a lot of their confidence back and realized how hard the schedule is going to be, and (realized) that they can’t take a point off at any time in any of the matches and how hard they have to work to win a match. Their attitude and determination was at the right place.”

The Bengals started slow, dropping the first two sets against Capital before rallying to force a fifth set.

“They knew that they should be beating this team,” DePeters said. “Our front row was on and our back row was off, or vice versa. They finally just put it together, and they knew that they wanted to play hard and not lose to this team in three sets.”

Buffalo State lost the fifth and final set against Capital, but had a chance at redemption later that night against Case Western Reserve. They lost the first set, 14-25, before storming back to win three out of the next four to get the victory.

Still fatigued from Friday’s 10-set marathon, the Bengals beat John Carroll on Saturday in four games despite giving up an early lead in each set.

“We would somehow just take a break and let (John Carroll) come back in, so we had to work even harder to get that set point or those two points to win the match,” DePeters said.

“They were tired,” DePeters added. “They put all they had into those two matches on Friday. Unfortunately, that’s how Division III volleyball works, and you have to play through it, and they did. They played through it well.”

Leif Reigstad can be reached by email at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter @LeifReigstad